True story: I learned how to make this scrumptious pasta dish from a Duchess! Early one morning, last October, a group of about ten of us met Duchess Nicoletta Polo Lanzo Tomasi at the Vucciria Market in Palermo, Sicily to begin a day of shopping, cooking, dining and touring a 17th century palazzo. This extraordinary day–a foodie’s dream come true–was arranged for us by the inimitable Linda Plazonja of Morso Soggiorno (www.morsosoggiorno.com).
After selecting the freshest produce, fish and other ingredients at the colorful and bustling outdoor market, we returned to Nicoletta’s 17th century Palazzo to a stunning terrace embellished with lush foliage overlooking Palermo’s harbor. There we picked fresh herbs and flowers—parsley, basil, bay leaves, jasmine—to be used in the recipes we would prepare under the tutelage of the Duchess.
Our culinary efforts were rewarded with a five-course meal served a in sumptuous dining room set with glistening silver, crystal, and beautiful antique china bearing the family crest of the Duke of Palma.
Ruvidelli with Pesto, Trapanese Style was one of the dishes the Duchess taught us. A thick spaghetti-type pasta is tossed with a fresh, aromatic tomato sauce and then sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs. Ruvidelli con Pesto alla Trapanese exemplifies authentic Sicilian cuisine at its finest.
Ruvidelli with Pesto Trapanese Style
- 2 pounds Roma or San Marzano tomatoes*
- ¾ cup blanched almonds
- a bunch of fresh basil
- freshly ground pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Ruvidelli**
- 1 cup toasted bread crumbs
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place tomatoes, almonds, basil, salt and pepper in a blender. Start blending, then add up to 1 cup of olive oil, a little at a time. Pour half the sauce into a serving bowl. Place the pasta into the boiling water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, then place in a large bowl. Add the remaining sauce to the pasta and toss well. Serve with toasted bread crumbs, decorate with basil, and pass around the extra sauce.
To toast bread crumbs: You will need about 1 cup of bread crumbs for 4 servings. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, then sauté the bread crumbs in the oil for a few minutes until golden brown, being careful not to burn the crumbs.
Notes: *If San Marzano or Roma tomatoes are not in season, or not available in your market, use the freshest tomatoes that are available. I used Backyard Farms cocktail tomatoes which I bought at Whole Foods.
**Ruvidelli is a thick spaghetti type pasta which I could not find in the local markets. I substituted bucatini. Other pastas you can substitute are: gemelli or fusilli lunghi (long fusilli).